B12 Solipsism

Spreading confusion over the internet since 1994

Typeface designers versus the Internet

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“Helvetica [Blu-ray]” (Gary Hustwit)

I’m glad I’m not currently struggling with designing websites, and beating fonts and typefaces into online versions, especially for corporations that have specific fonts they want used in all their communications. I have great sympathy for those who are engaged in that battle

Since 1860

Something similar happens to the text that appears on your computer screen whenever you log on to a Web site. The site’s owner has so little control over the fine details of what you will see that the typeface in which the text appears is bound to be distorted. Pity the poor designer who struggled to perfect it.

“It’s very, very complicated,” groaned one of those designers, Jonathan Hoefler. “One problem is that pixels operate differently on screen to blobs of ink on paper, so typefaces for the Web need different qualities. The bigger problem is all of the technology that delivers the font to the viewer. The Web site is delivered by one cluster of hardware to another, often with a different operating system, different browser and, in some cases, different pieces of software. That’s a very long chain. The number of variations is almost bottomless, and the results are unreliable at best.”

To see what he means, take a look at Georgia [wikipedia entry], the typeface on the IHT/New York Times Web site, on a Mac, then see how different it looks on a PC.

[Click to continue reading Design – Typeface Designers Wrestle With the World of Pixels – NYTimes.com]

Obama palooza

Curious to see what happens in this arena in the next few years, including the new font, Vitesse

[Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones] are preparing for the launch on Thursday of a new font, Vitesse. It will be the 29th type family (that’s type-speak for a full set of text with letters, numbers and symbols) they have published and the first of three new ones to be introduced in 2010. If Vitesse is anywhere near as successful as some of their other designs, which include Gotham, the suave font adopted by Barack Obama for his presidential election campaign, and the signature typefaces of the Art Institute of Chicago and Whitney Museum in New York, you will see it somewhere very soon.

Despite occasional media frenzies, such as when the Obama campaign embraced Gotham and IKEA dumped the vintage modernist typeface, Futura, for tech-savvy Verdana, typography design is still an esoteric business.

Speaking of fonts, you should rent Helvetica if you haven’t already seen it [Netflix]

We use it every day on our computers, we see it on street signs — and we take it for granted. Now, Gary Hustwit’s unique documentary introduces us to Helvetica, a font whose readability has made it the most popular in the world. Interviews with designers and artists offer insight into the development, use and universal acceptance of Helvetica as the typeface of choice for everything from writing letters to creating corporate logos.

Written by Seth Anderson

January 11th, 2010 at 11:33 am

Posted in Arts

Tagged with ,

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